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Stars Bistro and Bar, 21st & P Streets in Dupont - Closed


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The recent buzz on 21P overshadows a not-so-quiet but rather serviceable restaurant on the same block. Yes, it is the venerable Mimi's, the refuge of waiters who aspire to a career in performing arts but for some reason refuse to move to New York.

Usually, the mere fact that dinner will include unsolicited singing and dancing routines, most of them at the decibel level competing with a Delta Shuttle, drives many away. Besides, it somehow became fashionable to poo-poo Mimi's, as if to acknowledge dining there is some great style faux pas. But now that the weather is slowly inching toward summer and Mimi's opened its outdoor section where the singing is barely heard, it would be silly to ignore the place that offers enjoyable, often underappreciated alfresco food - at a reasonable price - in Dupont Circle. Enough said.

Finally, here's a tidbit that will interest you lot. On Mondays all the wines on their list except sparkling go for half-price.

Yesterday a friend and I hit Mimi's for a casual dinner in the 'hood. We both got a yellow tomato gaspacho with avocado - thick, refreshing and rich. The entrees were a chicken quesadilla that disappeared pretty fast, and for me, a grilled brie sandwich. This is a particular favorite of mine - it comes in form of two generously sized triangles of toasted ciabatta where the cheese is pressed with caramelized onions, tomatoes and spinach. There is a also a side of fresh field greens. This is a satisfying, cleanly executed dish that is a lot better that, frankly, it needs to be at $8 a pop.

The bill was $50 for two including a nice bottle of Argentine Malpec that I predictably forgot to examine in more detail. We didn't stay for dessert as I had restocked on dark chocolate at home and was anxious to show off my stash to my friend.

So next time you're in Dupont and want some good, unambitious food that won't break the bank, throw away the snobbery and do give Mimi's a chance. Get an outside table and pretend the singing comes from a block away. You won't know the difference.

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They don't sing while serving you - they take turns, go up to the mic at the piano and do a number. It can be sorta fun. Sorta.

It's been a couple of years since I last ate there. I had a very bad impression of the food. Perhaps I will give it another shot - maybe next time I'm just looking for a bottle of wine and an app or two, sitting outdoors could work. My recollection of my 2 or 3 visits was that the food was pretty mediocre and a bit on the pricey side (for what it was).

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